Curriculum

The American Indian Public Health and Wellness (AIPHW) Certificate and Minor programs are designed to provide a succinct body of knowledge which is necessary to provide a specific focus that targets the unique, highly complex realm of the current 574 Federally Recognized Tribes, 74 State recognized Tribes, and 34 federally funded Urban Indian environments for public health and wellness educational opportunities.  The courses stress an understanding that each Tribe or American Indian community has their own unique governmental structure and culture.

This AIPHW Certificate and Graduate Minor programs are designed to help students understand how to work respectfully and effectively with Tribes and American Indian communities, to understand the basis of health services and implications of specific tribal (local and federal) law to help improve the devastating health issues currently experienced by American Indians.

Central to this area of study is an appreciation to understand the unique governmental relationship based on how the federal government relates to Tribal nations as distinct sovereign political entities, not as a racial classification. This trust responsibility is a government to government relationship, recognized and legally justified in the Constitution, numerous Public Laws, and Presidential Executive Orders.

Increasing the knowledge of health professionals and increasing a culturally prepared workforce in the U.S. is the aim of the Certificate and Graduate Minor programs.  The unique knowledge about American Indian health care and services also offers opportunities for students from other countries to learn about this isolated public health model. This knowledge includes understanding the legal responsibility of the United States to provide health care and services to American Indians using a historical holistic approach encompassing the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being of individuals, families and communities utilized before forced assimilation was practiced.

Students will examine the public health and wellness issues facing American Indian communities: review historical implications, analyze legislation, apply specific financing requirements, and gain an understanding of the unique American Indian public health system and the complex set of services, activities, collaborations and stakeholders that varies by Tribe and region.

This AIPHW Certificate and Graduate Minor programs are open to all individuals regardless of their race, ethnicity, culture, and gender or personal beliefs.  The demand for culturally-cognizant, professionally trained health and wellness personnel, who are prepared to work within the unique world of Tribal Public Health and Wellness is currently at high demand.  The highest number of requests comes from those who are not enrolled as a student and/or currently working in this environment (e.g. state public health professionals and federal health agencies).   The Certificate directly addresses the benefits that can be gained directly from the additional health knowledge and administrative skills necessary to provide optimum advocacy for complex innovations, creative program designs, and improvements of policy and legislation (locally and nationally).

American Indians and Alaska Natives (AI/ANs) continue to experience the worst health outcomes compared with the rest of the U.S. population.  American Indians have disparate needs for health equity, perpetuated by high rates of poverty, accompanied by high unemployment rates, barriers to accessing higher education, poor housing, lack of transportation and geographic isolation, which, all contribute to poor health and wellness outcomes. However, the fact that American Indians exist today is because of inherent strengths and numerous paths of resiliency.  These characteristics speaks to the fortitude of conquering the experiences of genocide, historical trauma, damaging federal policies, forced removal/relocation, boarding schools, taking of Tribal lands, and continuing threats to culture, language, and access to traditional foods.

Historic and persistent under-funding of American Indian healthcare and service system has resulted in problems with access to care and services, and has limited the ability of the American Indian healthcare and service system to provide the full range of medical, behavioral, environmental health and wellness services that could help prevent or reduce the complications of chronic diseases, co-occurring disorders, and pre-mature death.  Lastly, it is fundamentally necessary to understand that the American Indian health and wellness system is unlike any other.  It serves the poorest, sickest and most remote populations in the United States.  Each Tribe’s culture under-grids and guides their elected leadership to meet their respective unique needs in this complex environment.

This AIPHW Certificate program will begin to address the tremendous need for a comprehensive program of study that addresses a major void of health and wellness knowledge about the “First Americans”.  This lack of indigenous knowledge has a direct impact on every citizens’ wellbeing regardless of residence, race, economic status, or community.

PubH 6241
American Indian Health Policy, Law and Health Services Administration

Fall Semester, 2 credits

As sovereign nations, American Indian Tribes are responsible for the overall health and well-being of their members along with the land and environment of their respective tribe. Tribes are becoming increasingly involved in more public health activities and regulations, and deliver public health services through various funding sources, grants and contracts, alone or in collaboration with other tribes and local governments, county and state health departments.

This course provides a general basis for understanding American Indian public health and wellness.  Central to this area of study, is an appreciation to understand the unique governmental relationship based on how the federal government relates to tribal nations as distinct sovereign political entities, not as a racial classification.  The trust responsibility is a government to government relationship as established in the U.S. Constitution.

In this course students will learn about the legal responsibility of the United States to the 574 federally recognized tribes, to provide health services to American Indians.  Students will examine the public health issues facing American Indian communities; review historical implications, analyze legislation, apply specific financing requirements, and gain an understanding of the unique American Indian public health system and the complex set of services, activities, collaborations and stakeholders that varies by tribe and region.

This is a required course for those seeking a certificate or minor.  It is designed to help students understand how to work respectfully and effectively with tribes and American Indian communities, to understand the basis of health services and implications of specific tribal (local and federal) law to help improve the devastating health issues currently experienced by American Indians.

While this course focuses on American Indian Public Health and Wellness, Health Policy, Law, Health Services Administration, there are many parallels that can be made by students related to other governance structures from around the world.  The lessons can help fortify the knowledge of all students regardless of race, and culture, that can be utilized in individual professional endeavors.

PubH 6242
American Indian Cultural Humility

Spring Semester, 2 credits

The course will present evidence that cultural humility is a lifelong quest toward achieving positive outcomes in work with American Indian Tribes and American Indian communities.  It is essential that health care and health service providers learn the respective cultures of the American Indian population they are serving. Equally important is the fact that every federally recognized tribe, of which there are 574, has their own unique traditional customs, history with other tribes, and often subpopulations within the governance of a single tribal government.  The realization of understanding how populations have been driven by their respective cultures to their overall health and well-being is necessary to promote achievement of positive outcomes for stakeholders and communities.

The course will target methods to help health professionals to ensure that health services take into account individual understanding of the professional’s knowledge and how this knowledge should be respectful of individual cultural preferences.

A systematic process will be provided to assist in how to learn community policies, learning processes, and traditions; as well as learning about various structures by which the culture of governments, organizations and individuals develop and support the attitudes, behaviors, practices and systems that are needed for effective cross-cultural interactions between health professionals and community members.  Students will learn that ultimately, cultural humility effectiveness is determined by the individual who is receiving the services.

The course is grounded in the understanding that cultural humility can effectively be used to strive for continuous improvement, to effectively utilize assets and address the health needs of individual American Indian communities.

Constructs learned from this course can be advantageous for students to adapt to other unique populations around the world.  Learning the importance humility and respect is significant for development of policies that include community participation and are critical to understanding readiness to foster governmental and public health for all populations.

PubH 6243
American Indian Research, Evaluation and Collaborations

Spring Semester, 2 credits

It is important to understand how unique and to understand the differences of doing research with Tribal governments.  As sovereign nations, American Indian Federally Recognized Tribes are responsible for the overall health and well-being of their populations, as well as controlling research and evaluation activities; and development of formal collaborations. A duly elected Tribal government is responsible for all functions and activities of the Tribe.  Tribes have an inherent and legal responsibility to protect Tribal affairs, businesses, and traditional values and customs.  Included in Tribal responsibilities is the ability to develop and maintain policies to protect the integrity of operations and guard against predatory and harmful use of data against the population they serve.  This is an absolute and non-negotiable function of a Tribe to ensure present and continued viability of all future generations.

This course will provide specific examples of data sharing agreements, Memorandums of Agreement or Understanding, legal basis for confidentially, discuss community readiness, and community evaluations. It is designed to help students understand how to work respectfully and effectively with Tribes and American Indian communities, and to understand the basis of research, evaluation, and collaboration.  This course focuses on stakeholder driven: participation, issue identification, data sharing, and benefit to community.

To help ensure ethical and cultural values are protected an increasing number of Tribes are forming their own Institutional Review Boards (IRBs) under 45 CFR 46. The course will offer examples of Tribal IRBs and specific IRB components for American Indian populations.

Tribal governments represent communities with distinctive social, cultural, and spiritual qualities that embody a unique context for the review and conduct of research. This course will provide numerous examples of Tribally developed research and review mechanisms that are tailored to specific community needs and interests.

Constructs learned from this course can be advantageous for students to adapt to other unique populations around the world.  Learning the importance confidentiality, data ownership, humility and respect is significant for development of policies that include community participation and are critical to understanding readiness to foster governmental and public health for all populations.

Learning how American Indian’s resiliencies and assets have allowed this population to exist today are valid examples that can be utilized (with adaptations) for non-American Indian populations.

PubH 6244
American Indian Health and Wellness Equity

Fall Semester, 2 credits

American Indian health-related problems and the lack of adequate health care and services has resulted in a disproportionate burden of disease and social suffering on the population.  History indicates that time and again health inequities are directly and indirectly associated with colonization, social support, hope, general resilient coping abilities, traditional cultural and spiritual practices, ethnic pride/enculturation, community mastery, and political inequities,

It is also important to understand how American Indians “survived” to this day.  Resilience is a major factor in understanding health and wellness equity.  It is also important to understand the “diversity” of each tribe’s governance, respect for elders, community reciprocity, historical trauma, kinship, food security, healing, economy, social dependence and extended family of each of the 574 federally recognized tribes and American Indian Communities.

While this course focuses on American Indian public health and wellness equity, there are many parallels that will be discussed as this history relates to other oppressed populations.  These historical lessons help fortify the knowledge of all students regardless of race, and culture, by learning accurate American Indian equity issues, and other experiences of “tribal-like” populations from around the World that can be utilized in individual professional endeavors.

From the earliest days of colonization, the diseases brought from the “Old World” proved far more lethal than any weapon in the European arsenal. Infectious diseases, including measles, smallpox, and plague, among others, annihilated entire communities lost forever from history. The toll taken by infectious disease, when combined with the effects of war, the expulsion of virtually all American Indians from their ancestral lands, and the destruction of traditional American Indian ways of life, effectively destroyed the historical governance structures previously employed by American Indians for millennia.  As a consequence, American Indians became dependent on the federal government for the provision of health services as noted in the U.S. Constitution.  American Indians are dying of preventable diseases including:  diabetes, alcoholism, tuberculosis, suicide, unintentional injuries, and other health conditions at shocking rates above the general U.S. population.

This course will discuss the differences of health disparities and health assets from the Northern Plains Tribes to other regional areas and other populations.  The course will offer examples about communication plans, hopelessness behaviors, public perceptions, resilience, and social marketing in Indian Country.

Constructs learned from this course can be advantageous for students to adapt to other unique populations around the world.  Learning how American Indian’s resiliences and assets have allowed this population to exist today are valid examples that can be utilized (with adaptations) for non-American Indian populations.

PubH 6245
American Indian Environmental Health Tribal Case Studies

Spring Semester, 2 credits

Unique political and cultural dynamics surround environmental health in federally recognized American Indian Tribal communities.

From the earliest days of colonization, the diseases brought from other populations proved far more lethal than any arsenal. Infectious diseases, including measles, smallpox, and plague, among others, annihilated entire communities lost forever from history. The toll taken by infectious disease, when combined with the effects of war, and the expulsion of virtually all American Indians from their ancestral lands, destroyed knowledge about traditional healing plants and natural resources. This lost knowledge had a direct impact on using historical practices that was based on practicing environmental protection as a means of survival.

While this course focuses on American Indian environmental case studies and resulting inequities, there are many parallels that will be discussed as this history relates to other oppressed populations.  These historical lessons help fortify the knowledge of all students regardless of race, and culture, by learning accurate American Indian environmental issues, and other experiences of “tribal-like” populations from around the World to be utilized in individual professional endeavors.

American Indian tribes are sovereign governments, with inherent and Constitutional powers of self-governance over their citizens and their territories.  Historically, tribes had utilized a governance structure to advance and maintain natural resources, traditional diets, life styles, food sources, spiritually that respects earthly harmony, and preservation of resources for future generations.

Case studies will be used that utilize current best or promising practices that have served as model programs to address diabetes, smoking, cancer, integration of traditional healing, health policy, community engagement, private sector partnerships, and tribal self-determination in health and wellness systems.

This course will offer an examination of historical environmental health case studies and the resulting inequities to justify methods for learning and gaining confidence in working with tribal communities, establishing collaborations to improve awareness of social and cultural contexts, honoring traditional customs, and respecting traditional spiritually practices.  The focus of the course will be promotion/development of policies that include tribal participation that advances tribal public and environmental health.

This course is designed to help students understand how to work respectfully and effectively with tribes and American Indian communities, to understand the accurate environmental history and historical trauma as it relates to understanding health inequities and the devastating health issues currently experienced by American Indians.

Constructs learned from this course can be advantageous for students to adapt to other unique populations around the world.  Learning the promotion and or development of policies that include community participation are critical to understanding readiness to foster public and environmental health for all populations.

PubH 6246
General History of American Indians Post Colonization and Review of Historical Trauma

Fall Semester, 2 credits

As sovereign nations, American Indian Tribes are responsible for the overall health and well-being of their members. Tribes are becoming increasingly involved in more public health activities and regulation, and deliver public health services through various funding sources, grants and contracts, alone or in collaboration with other tribes and local, county and state health departments.  The history of American Indians pre and post colonization will be discussed as it relates to the health and wellness of present day American Indians.  There are significant Indigenous knowledge lessons that will be shared from American Indians who lived and continue to live upon their land (including forced relocation to non-traditional land) to help understand the relationship to the land culture and its other inhabitants today.

While this course focuses on American Indian history, there are many parallels that will be discussed as this history relates to other oppressed populations.  These historical lessons help fortify the knowledge of all students regardless of race, and culture, by learning accurate American Indian history, and other experiences of “tribal-like” populations from around the World to be utilized in individual professional endeavors.

American Indian tribes have had a unique history with the United States that is mixed with conflict, warfare, lack of cooperation, and lack of collaboration. This history has resulted in a complex unique web of federal Indian policy, treaties, and inter- governmental relationships. Services provided to American Indians persons have been guaranteed through treaties, executive orders, and other legal bases. The US Constitution established the current “government to government” status federally recognized tribes and tribal organizations have with the federal government.

In this course students will learn about the legal responsibility of the United States to the 574 federally recognized tribes and tribal organizations, to provide health services to American Indians.  Students will examine the public health issues facing American Indian communities by reviewing historical implications of forced acculturation, warfare, and severely underfunded health services, that has led to health inequities.  Students will examine the health status of American Indian tribes and American Indian communities, that have/are suffering needless loss of life related to preventable and treatable illness as a matter of social justice and civil rights.  The hostile environment against American Indians and resulting historical trauma from the federal government will be discussed, e.g. the United State voted against the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People in 2007.  The United States subsequently reversed to approve in 2010.

This course is designed to help students understand how to work respectfully and effectively with tribes and American Indian communities, to understand the accurate history and historical trauma as it relates to understanding health inequities and the devastating health issues currently experienced by American Indians.

Constructs learned from this course can be advantageous for students to adapt to other unique populations around the world.


The American Indian Public Health and Wellness Certificate is 12 credits and may be completed in two terms (6cr/term).  Presently courses are offered onsite and Zoom, scheduled two or three days/week in the early evening.

The American Indian Graduate Minor is 6 credits, and may be completed in one semester (providing the semester offerings total 6 credits).  Presently courses are offered onsite and Zoom, scheduled two or three days/week in the early evening.

All courses are designed to be inclusive of all students from all races, cultures, and experiences. Everyone is welcome to attend the courses. While the focus is on American Indians, there are advantages to learning accurate history, other health models, innovative health services, and the importance of using a holistic approach of health and wellness for all populations.

Required approved Minor courses (6cr) may be taken in any order:

  • PubH 6241 American Indian Health Policy, Law, and Health Services Administration
  • PubH 6242 American Indian Cultural Humility
  • PubH 6243 American Indian Research, Evaluation and Collaborations

Required approved Certificate courses (12cr) may be taken in any order:

  • PubH 6241 American Indian Health Policy, Law, and Health Services Administration
  • PubH 6242 American Indian Cultural Humility
  • PubH 6243 American Indian Research, Evaluation and Collaborations
  • PubH 6244 American Indian Health and Wellness Equity
  • PubH 6245 American Indian Environmental Health Tribal Case Studies
  • PubH 6246 General History of American Indians Post Colonization and Review of Historical Trauma

Other American Indian courses are:

  • AMIN 5107 The Structure of Anishinaabemowin, the Ojibwe Language
  • AMIN 5108 History of Anishinaabemowin, the Ojibwe Language
  • AMIN 5109 Anishinaabe Literature
  • AMIN 5141 American Indian Language Planning, 3cr (Fall)
  • AMIN 5202 American Indians and the Supreme Court, 3cr
  • AMIN 5303 American Indians and Photography
  • AMIN 5402 American Indians and the Cinema, 3cr
  • AMIN 5409 American Indian Women: Ethnographic & Ethnohistorical Perspectives, 3cr (Fall)
  • AMIN 5412 Comparative Indigenous Feminisms, 3cr
  • AMIN 5601 Archaeology and Native Americans
  • AMIN 5890 Readings in American Indian and Indigenous History, 3cr (Fall)
  • AMIN 5920 Topics in American Indian studies, 3cr
  • AMIN 8910 Optics in American Indian and Indigenous Studies, 1-3cr
  • CI 8645 Indigenous Language Revitalization and Activist Research Methods, 3cr (Fall)
  • CSPH 5212 Peace Building through Mindfulness, Transformative Dialogue in the Global Community, 3cr (Spring 1 F, 3 Sat)
  • DAKO 5126 Advanced Dakota Language I, 3 cr (Fall)
  • DAKO 5129 Advanced Dakota Language II, 3cr (Spring)
  • LAW 6236 Indian Law, 3cr (Fall)
  • LING 5900 Topics in Linguistics, 1-4cr (Fall)
  • NURS 5808 American Indian Health and Health Care
  • OJIB 5106 Advanced Ojibwe Language I, 3cr (Fall)
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